Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8 (ESV)

God teaches me gratitude lessons in unique places such as a Mexican restaurant. My husband and I were part of a church staff enrichment dinner. We were done eating our food of choice. Mine was taco salad. Our stomachs were cozy and we rearranged our seating so we could hear the speaker. His challenge to all in the room was to stop complaining for 21 days. 

I was shocked by the request while my husband jumped for joy on the inside. Zeke tried to tell me I was complaining a lot lately. I was shocked because I didn’t know what else I’d talk about for the next 21 days. Complaining was a prolific part of my vocabulary. It was going to be difficult to break that habit.

During those 21 days, God showed me my sin. I repented. I found the Bible to be a source of hope and strength. I started to read the Bible with renewed alertness for gratitude. I also needed to remember what I learned from God. I wish that was the very last time I ever complained about anything in life. Remembering this process is like taking a shower: you have to do it often because we get dirty daily.

Psalm 138 is a place where David could be complaining. The Bible tells us that many enemies were after the man after God’s own heart. Instead, David starts with words of thanksgiving and he finishes the Psalm with words of trust. 

Have you thought about offering a prayer of thanksgiving to God when your problems are many? I know we cry for help (and we should). What if, like David, we cry out with thanksgiving and trust? 

Here is my prayer inspired by Psalm 138:

“Lord, I thank you with my whole heart. I sing your praise before everyone great and small. I bow down before you. I give thanks to you because you magnified your Word about all your name. When I cried your name, not only you answered but you made me bold with strength in my soul.” 

Do you feel a sense of strength and trust rising within you? I certainly do. The word of God strengthens us more than any internet rant will ever do. I know. I’ve been there. Instead of going to God, who actually can do something about my problems, I lock arms with anger and let social media have it.

The result of my actions are guilt and shame because my human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:20). It is okay to be angry. I sinned when I projected my anger on people who were having a perfectly positive day until they read my words online. I sinned when I didn’t trust God to give me wisdom before I was slow to listen, quick to speak (or type), and quick to get angry.  

David recognizes he is in the midst of trouble. He quickly expresses his trust in God’s salvation. 

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;

You will stretch out Your hand

Against the wrath of my enemies,

And Your right hand will save me.” Psalm 138:7 (NKJV)

I appreciate David’s example because I’m often tempted to let a “prayer warrior” express trust in God for me. I’m sometimes tempted to let my Bible teacher or the preacher do something I can do for myself. I can verbalize my trust in God’s amazing power to save in the middle of my trouble. 

I can say a simple prayer such as:

“Lord I am in the middle of another mess. You have the power to stretch out your hand against all that is against me. I trust your right hand will deliver me.” 

God truly is just a prayer away. He is never too busy to listen to our prayers. He wants us to communicate with Him regularly. 

The last part of Psalm 138 is more for me than for God. He is all-knowing. He knows how I got to where I am and how He will deliver. I believe that I’m the one who needs to affirm God’s power and strength. 

I wrote Psalm 138:8 and I put it in a place where I can see it often (my kitchen). When Bible study is done and I go on with my day, I have the temptation to revert to my old ways. That’s when I need the reminder of God’s reliance and ability to do all things well. He is for you and me. He will see us through this challenging situation. 

Prayer: “Oh Lord, how we trust you. Your word is infallible. Your ways are higher than mine. I thank you for being better than I can comprehend. I say to my soul: The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. I say to you: your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake me, the work of your hands.”